Davis Science Center 'Planned' Buildings 1984-1991

The Center, from the beginning, had considered the need for a permanent building of its own. Maria Ogrydziak, one of the founding women, was an architect and encouraged by the Board she started in 1984 to skillfully facilitate a very thorough brainstorming and detailed planning process to develop a building prospectus and conceptual floor plan. This was completed in 1985 and resulted in a building protocol describing building spaces (uses, sizes and spatial relationships) and a concept drawing of a proposed building on Central Park creating an area called "Discovery Park." This proposal was submitted in response to a City RFP in 1995.
Ogrydziak 1984-5
Ogrydziak 1984-5

The 1984-5 Davis Discovery Park Science Center building reflected the Center's aspirations and had permanent and changing exhibition spaces, a lab for individual teen and others' investigations, and two classroom areas. A United Way Capital Campaign workshop was arranged for the board and a Development Committee was formed to provide long-range planning guidance including detailed plans for a capital campaign. We initiated a small campaign of pledges. These pledges paid for much of the planning that occurred over the next five years as hopes and dreams, board and staff, policies and procedures evolved.


The City Council approved the presence of the Davis Science Center in Central Park and after a year or so of political maneuvering by developers and a local environmental movement calling itself "Save Open Space", the Center negotiated with the City in 1986-7 for a 50 year lease for a 7,000 sq ft footprint site for its building on the Southeast corner of the City park. Now all that remained was to raise sufficient funds to design and construct the building.

The design phase came first. This was an exhilarating period. First the RFP (Request For Proposals) was sent out to dozens of architects. Then the responding architects were interviewed and their preliminary designs evaluated.
Unger 1988
Unger 1988-9
1987 - Eventually Dean Unger was chosen and he and his colleague Larry Diminyatz worked with us to produce a series of conceptual drawings all for a 12,000 square feet building to be set on the south east corner of Central Park.
Above left was the first design.
1988-9 - The design above right was ultimately approved, reviewed by City planners and working drawings embarked upon.

A Capital Campaign assisted by Consultant Terry Fries of Fries and Fries of Walnut Grove was coordinated by Board members Judith Moores and Cherie Porter.
Suddenly in 1990 plans changed dramatically and the Center gave up the Central Park Lease and started planning for a building on 3 acres on 5th Street, Davis - donated by developers MRI.
Unger / Ancona 1990

On April 30, 1991 the Davis Science Center recorded title to three acres (lot 6) in the Mace Ranch Park Development donated by MRI Partners. This donation had resulted in a change of building plans.

Architect Dean Unger agreed to design a building specifically for this site, and Tomas Ancona of San Francisco designed a conceptual exhibit plan for Unger's new building involving input from board, staff and some community members.

Capital Campaign fund raising efforts continued and used the new, sophisticated Ancona brochure as a marketing tool.
However, By late Fall 1991 the Board determined that the Capital Campaign had stalled. There was a serious conflict between continuing efforts to develop a sound Annual Campaign for the Program and Operations General Fund and the focus on fund raising for the building. Efforts to keep both campaigns at an appropriately high level were reaping limited results.

A change of direction was made. Following suggestions made by developer Frank Ramos the City of Davis agreed to take title to a ranch house (occupied at that time by a local family) situated on what was to become Mace Ranch Community Park, and lease it to the Science Center. In December the Center started renovations on the house. There was much to be done to repair, renovate and remodel the house so that it would function as a science center with appropriate public and work spaces.

Funding for the renovation, remodel, and design & development of the building as a science center was provided by the bulk of the building funds raised during the Center's capital campaignwhich included a $100,000 Environmental License Plate grant awarded by the State Resources Agency in 1988, and about $127,000 of in-kind contributions of labor, equipment and materials provided by companies throughout the area. Harrison Construction of Davis provided general contractor services for the project. Dana Richards was the staff Building Coordinator.

The Center moved its things and staff into the remodelled building in May 1992 and was fully open to the public by September of that year.


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Explorit Science Center
P.O. Box 1288, Davis, CA 95617, USA
Phone: (530)756-0191     Fax: (530)756-1227